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Pediatric specialists in short supply

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Steve Chiotakis: There's a lot of talk these days about a problem in medical services. Too many highly paid specialists and not enough primary care doctors for adults. Congress today hears from a coalition of pediatricians and children's hospitals who have a different sort of problem. From the Marketplace health desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.


Gregory Warner: Amar Patel is in his third year at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, the time when med students start thinking about what kind of doctors they're going to be. He's considering pediatric orthopedics.

Amar Patel:: The population's a lot easier to deal with, it's more fun and the children tend to get better quicker.

Pediatric specialists in areas like orthopedics, oncology and rheumatology are in short supply. That's according to a new survey by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.

In part because doctors have gotten better at saving premature babies, there are now more children with major medical needs. Young patients may wait months to see a specialist and have to travel to another state to find one.

Jim Kaufman is with the association. He says medical school tuition is high and pediatric specialists don't earn enough. The Senate health care bill would include $30 million to reimburse tuition for students like Patel.

Jim Kaufman: Incentivizing those young physicians would help alleviate some of the financial burden that they're facing coming out of training programs.

Kaufman says that's not enough. Pediatric specialists see more Medicaid patients, so their total reimbursements are lower. There's a provision in the House bill that would boost those reimbursements.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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